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RCA affirms validity of Freundel’s past conversions, but not Israeli Rabbinate
M Torczyner: After scandal, a simple mikvah proposal
E Brown: A Watergate of Our Own
▪ Without disagreeing, I point out that some of these concerns also apply to Ba’alei Teshuvah: A bill of rights for Jewish converts
Voyeur Case Spurs Rabbis to Add Post for Women
▪ This could be huge: Can ministers who make a living by conducting weddings be required to conduct same-sex weddings?
▪ Brief mention of Hassidim: The History of Fertility Transitions and the New Memeplex
R Aviner: U.F.O.’s, Aliens and…Technology
▪ The good old days, when authors didn’t write what they meant and knowledge was for the elite (I only skimmed the article so I may have misunderstood it): The Lost Art of Reading
▪ I believe this also applies to rebbetzins: The Pastor’s Wife Effect
▪ I would have led with “palm branch” because Christians have a context for that: Kalamazoo Police Thought My Lulav Was a Sword

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of TorahMusings.com, a leading website on Orthodox Jewish scholarly subjects, and the Book Editor of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action magazine. He writes a popular column on issues of Jewish law and thought featured in newspapers and magazines, including The Jewish Link, The Jewish Echo and The Vues. In the past, he has served as the President of the small Jewish publisher Yashar Books and as the Managing Editor of OU Press. Rabbi Student serves on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America and as Director of the Halacha Commission of the Rabbinical Alliance of America. He also serves on the Editorial Boards of Jewish Action magazine, the Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society and the Achieve Journal of Behavioral Health, Religion & Community, as well as the Board of OU Press. He has published five English books, the most recent titled Search Engine volume 2: Finding Meaning in Jewish Texts -- Jewish Leadership, and served as the American editor for Morasha Kehillat Yaakov: Essays in Honour of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.


  1. I decided to pray next to our car among the changing maples and oaks.

    See Berachot 34b – it is chatzuf to daven in an open field.
    Shulchan Aruch 90:5 dont daven in an open place; Mishnah Berurah one who is always travelling can daven in but try to daven by a tree.

  2. Re “The Lost Art of Reading”: The author speaks of esoteric readings, not simply expecting anyone who can read would also read between the lines. I’ve seen the way the Moreh was turned into a Rorschach test, and would caution for limits in that regard.

    As for R’ Aviner’s piece, R’ Lamm wrote about aliens at a little more length in Challenge (ed. R’ Aryeh Carmel) in the 1970s. And the Rav does a nice job discussing the meta-issues in “The Lonely Man of Faith” (complete text, poorly scanned). The issue of technology giving cultural predominance to Adam I. As science fuels technological progress fuels better standard of living, we tend to give dominance to the scientific worldview and “fill the world and master it. This leaves Adam II, the titular man of faith, not only existentially lonely and seeking redemption through covenant with the other — and The Other, but also alone among his peers.

    Chabad sheluchim and kiruv kollelnikim leverage the “pastor’s wife” effect in a positive way. While the wives in such couples have no ordination, in practice many (probably most) of these rebbetzins do serve their congregation in a clergy role. (And their ability to do so is often a shidduch criterion among semichah students looking for that kind of life.)

    Explaining Lulavim: Three years ago, the Daily Mail (London) carried a fashion/gossip piece on Jarid Kushner and Ivanka Trump which they mention “He also held some flowers in one hand – perhaps a gift for his wife.” Looking at the picture, they are obviously misidentifying his lulav.

    Last, with respect to Freundel’s converts, the Rabbanut came out with a statement accepting all of them. It was premature to have expected an organization located in another continent and with fewer contacts with the people involved to come out with an informed statement on the subject with the same speed the RCA did. The JTA wire’s reporting was irresponsible by implying that the lack of resolution on day 1 meant problems ahead, and in fact may have itself caused such problems by coloring people’s memories (including those of potential spouses, children’s spouses, and their parents) of what was really an open-and-shut acceptance.

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